Producing Desired Results Through Change

Responding to Change —What Employees Can Do

The nature of change today is rapid, frequent, and complex. Here are a few suggestions to help you respond to the dramatic (and often traumatic) changes facing employees.

Listen to understand. It is easy to jump to conclusions, quickly form opinions, and stop listening when changes are announced. Take time to listen. Listen to hear and seek to understand what is being changed, why the change is occurring, how you will be affected, and what you can do to respond in a constructive manner.

Spread facts, not rumors. In the absence of facts, we often try to create them. This is the source of rumors. Rumor creation and spreading can consume a tremendous amount of time and energy. During change, spread what you know is true, and ask others not to spread ungrounded or untrue statements.

Seek answers. Ask questions in the interest of gaining needed information. Sometimes answers to questions may not be available or it may not be the appropriate time to share them. If you have questions, ask.

Make decisions about your future. Change often removes options, seek to understand and create new ones. You own your actions (and your reactions) related to the change. Take time to think about how the change will affect you and develop your personal plan of action. Ultimately we are responsible for our own careers. Ask, what do I want to do based on the new situation? What action will I take to mold my future?

Realize the process of change can be uncertain and painful. Change often creates pain. People may leave our network, schedules may change, and equipment can change. You may have more questions about what, who, and who than you are accustomed to experiencing. Be aware of this and be prepared to live with the changes and uncertainty. Remember, things have always changed; you have adapted in the past.

Take care of yourself. Times of change are stressful. Take care of yourself personally. This is a good time to take an inventory of your sleep, eating, diet, exercising and other health related behaviors. Reduce sources of stress and increase healthy behaviors during times of change.

Find ways to support others— up the chain of command, peers, others in the organization. When faced with change, it is easy to get so focused on the personal impacts and lose sight of others. Now is a good time to find things you can do for others at work and away. Refocus some of your attention and energy away from yourself and onto doing good deeds for others.

Recognize your own responses to change. Be aware of how you are responding to change. Take time on a regular basis (at least once each week, or daily) to pause from your work and ask:

  • How am I feeling?
  • What am I thinking?
  • Am I taking care of myself?
  • Am I addressing the changes in a productive manner?

Be patient. Change takes time. In some cases announcements of change are made long before they are implemented. Also, be patient with yourself and others regarding acceptance of the change. Time does take time.

Take responsibility for your own actions and responses. You control your responses (positive and negative; productive and counter-productive) to change. Think before you act or speak. Consider the long-term impacts of your words and actions as well as the short-time impacts.

Recognize what you have control over and act accordingly. The one thing you have control over is your response to people and events. During change, keep in mind what you can influence, what you can control, and what you cannot influence or control. Take action accordingly.

Reprinted from Producing Desired Results Through Change by Lawton Associates • Fall 2004 • © 2004 Lawton Associates. All Rights Reserved.

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